The war, which Russia is having against Ukraine today, is not only related to breaking the post- World War II rules of engagement, but is also ran in a new way, which was unknown to a certain degree before. The phenomenon had been named „the hybrid warfare”, initially paying attention mainly to the military aspect of the issue, symbolically represented by „little green men”.
1. Aggressive propaganda accompanies Russian aggression on Ukraine.
2. Kremlin’s „information warfare theory” grew bigger and became a crucial element of the „hybrid warfare”.
3. Kremlin surprised the West with its propaganda activity, having used Internet very skillfully in their actions.
4. Huge means are being invested in propaganda activities in Russia. Targeted area is Russia itself, Ukraine and almost all of the western countries.
5. The essential message of Kremlin’s propaganda is not only the necessity of recreating the Russian Empire but also the exposure of the decadence of the democratic societies of the West. This message is to justify the need for a civilizational change, which is to be done on the whole continent, and steered by Russia.
6. Kremlin’s propaganda serves both lying in the news feed, as disintegrating Western societies and molding of the attitudes of recruited elite supporters.
7. Kremlin’s propaganda is largely addressed to marginal circles, both far-right and far-left (or post-communist) oriented, as well as amorphous groups of the „outraged”, willing and ready to question „the system” of the West.(
8. The „information warfare” done with the use of Internet is largely correlated with the traditional activities of agents.
9. The influence of Kremlin’s propaganda is especially dangerous in social media, where it targets mostly young people of yet unformed views and personalities.
10. Activities on the Internet – the virtual world – are to lead to activities in the real world. The ultimate goal of the informational warfare is not only the propagandistic success, but winning the war, gaining territories, power and influence. Kremlin’s military activities are tightly correlated with propaganda activities. Winning the war on propaganda precedes deciding on taking military actions.
11. One of the ways of stopping Kremlin should be taking an adequate response to its propaganda activities. It calls for both a proper theoretical thought, as well as a reaction from governments of countries supporting social activity on the Internet.
Table of contents
Psychological warfawe and the dezintegration of society
From the content of propaganda to the „infected recipient”
Russian trolls in Polish internet
Associaton: „Radical critisism of the West”
Associaton: „Nation, Nationalism”
Associaton: „Volhynia, banderovtsy”
Associaton: „Be a patriot – mind your own business”
Associaton: „Contempt for the state and questioning „the system”
Associaton: „Don’t be russophobic”
Putin’s politics of influence in Poland
Political culture and war on information
Society’s reactions to trolling and pro-Putin propaganda
Psychological warfare and the disintegration of society
The war, which Russia is having against Ukraine today, is not only related to breaking the post- World War II rules of engagement, but is also ran in a new way, which was unknown to a certain degree before. The phenomenon had been named „the hybrid warfare”, initially paying attention mainly to the military aspect of the issue, symbolically represented by „little green men”.
The focus of attention had been shifting to what military actions of the hybrid-war are often accompanied by; intense propaganda activities, with Internet being the main tool. They are planned and carried out in Russia, having deep supply source in Russian literature on so-called „information warfare”.
Leading theoreticians of this war are Aleksander Dugin, one of the prominent ideologists of the Russian nationalism, and an ex-KGB officer from the „information front”, Igor Panarin. Joanna Darczewska, an analyst from OSW (Center for Eastern Studies), writes:
Russian authors describe „information warfare” as influencing consciousness of the masses as part of the global rivalry between systems of civilizations in the arena of information (…) Therefore, in some measure, by definition mixing military aspects with the non-military, technological (cyberspace) with social (information space), directly referring to the Cold War and psychological wars between the East and the West.
According to Parin, information warfare should imitate military operations and is to be a planned manipulation. This propaganda war machine follows rules of: mass and long-term action, the desirable effect (irrespectively of the facts, the information desired by the propaganda is to be spread and repeated), the rule of emotional awakening (making people act irrationally, without thinking), the rule of intelligibility (the message is simplified, shown in black and white), the rule of reputed obviousness (contains associations with well-known stereotypes and mythes). In other words, it is about fabricating information and fragmenting the public opinion, intimidating, and creating the impression that minority is majority, introducing chaos to channels of communication of an open, pluralistic society, viewed as the main threat by Putin’s Russia.
Modern Russian war on information is largely composed of well-known propaganda tactics of a totalitarian regime. Consequently, it is not an overstatement to compare Putin’s propaganda officers to Goebbels, although earlier propagandist standards of the bolshevics and stalinists seem to be more influential. Use of Internet is a brand new addition in the „information warfare”. It is not in the least about the mere ability to share information (in this case disinformation). Internet created completely new structures of social communication, it deeply changes the structure of society in a way not yet fully explored, and creates new psychosocial mechanisms.”Information warfare” is a propaganda project involving much deeper mechanisms.
Against the will of those Internet theoreticians, who idealistically believe in cyber-utopianism – picturing Internet as a giant forum of ideas, with free spoken public opinion – it is to be used for an aggression, escalating disintegrative tendencies and becoming a tool for questioning the democratic order of open societies. Any accomplishments so far of the theoreticians of the Internet are used as tools for mass disinformation, e.g. the rule of hive. Internet is used as an instrument for the essential content is to be dictated by „leaders of opinion” through modeled „web hubs”. You can say that Russian propagandists are creating an alternative idea of using Internet as a weapon, completely opposite to how cyber-utopianism views it .
The internet environment of Alexandr Dugin is a perfect example of such a web and a system of hubs. It consists of a few dozen mutually connected internet portals. This is a very powerful tool of influence in Russian internet, consequently in Russian society. His intoxication with nationalism and post-Soviet revisionism (desire for reclaiming the empire with its areas of influence and dominance) is greatly a success of the „information warfare” Kremlin is having with their society. Similar methods of „information warfare” are being introduced throughout the countries of the European Union, Poland being one of the areas of focus.
This very particular way of propagandizing had been given the name trolling . Although the phenomenon of trolling had been widely noticed, the its methods of functioning are yet to be properly studied and analyzed. The most superficial understanding of trolling views it as a lie, which can be shared with masses, thanks to Internet. Truly, trolling is incomparably more complex and it cannot be understood outside a broader social context, nor without proper understanding of its psychosocial mechanisms.
On the rudimentary level trolling is sharing memes – as content units (it could be one sentence, a picture, symbol) are called in sociology of the Internet. Trolling seems to be a technical act of using the Internet for reaching out a vast amount of people with a propagandistic, and therefore false information.
For example; supporters of French right receive memes about defending Christianity, post-communist German left get memes about defending peace and pacifism against American militarism, while Slovak receive content warning about German dominance in the EU. The goal is not convincing all recipients to one, consistent group of contents.
That is why no old-style ideology, like communism, is the content of memes. The primary objective of trolling is the disorganization and manipulation of enemy’s public opinion, and disorganization of society, not promoting any specific ideas.
While traditional propaganda referred to a consistent and uniformed ideology in order to persuade targeted social group to support idea of the choice, trolling’s objective is mainly social disintegration. Propagandistic content aimed at different groups, often of contradicting contents, are to build divisions, cause conflicts (e.g. „Volyn slaughter” meme is to strengthen the Polish-Ukrainian antagonism and create an impression of the authorities trifling with the memory of the victims).
Toxic memes therefore have a task much more complicated from an ordinary lie. They are shared throughout various place and can often reach groups of contracting values. It makes toxic memes greatly differentiated so that they can perform serve different goals, with different variations dedicated for different recipients.
It must be noted that trolling in principle doesn’t offer new content, only strengthening the ones already existing, emphasizing some contents over other.
Disintegrating public opinion is to cause insecurity and lack of trust. The anonymous, frustrated, lonely, part of an easily-controlled mob (mob being a crucial conception at Hannah Arendt’s theory of totalitarianism). The main objective is breaking the structure of a democratic discourse and destroying open society.
While we will not find an old type, consistent ideology behind the „information warfare”, it does come as part of a clearly presented view of the world. Democracy and the West are seen as decadent and nearing their end, and they inevitably have to be replaced with a new civilizational order. Escalating all tensions and conflicts (e.g. traditionalism-modernism, centralized state-regionalisms, social identity-individualism etc) is to lead to disintegration and destruction. It is to be a world of uncertainty faced with the resilience and strength of the „Russian project”. Only in this context can one see the importance of the role of the demonstrative lie used by Putin, Lavrow and other Kremlin representatives. A lie is a demonstration of force and decisiveness showing the doubtful ones the inevitability of what is coming (you can see a similar pattern in the strategy of ISIS.
Information warfare conducted with the use of Internet is an important, perhaps the most important element of the hybrid war. The military force is part of propaganda of fear and can be fully used when „an advantage in information war is reached, causing uncertainty, divisions, and defeatism”.
From the content of propaganda to the „infected recipient”
Kremlin’s propaganda activities can most easily be noticed with the activity of anonymous commentators on all kinds of portals and blogospheres. On websites such as onet.pl all publications on matters concerning Ukraine were immediately upon publication joined by aggressive, hateful anti-Ukrainian comments, and all publications critical of Russia were met with indignation. Same pattern could be observed on the biggest Polish blog forum Salon24.pl.
Many of such comments are created by organized groups, with the use of fake internet and social media profiles. One internet user working for the propaganda machine can create hundreds of fake profiles, and with the help of proper software can distribute their posts with great efficiency. Russian soil creates a safe ground for such troll groups to be created and organized. It’s harder for them to exist on foreign ground, for Poland or other countries, Moscow having less space for activity.
Creating fake or only seemingly existing organizations, and using their websites is another instrument in use. They often refer to Russian websites and are mutually connected, which should raise anybody’s eyebrows considering they are ran often by the very same small groups of people. Small amount of Internet-active pro-Russian propagandists, considering how hard it is to recruit them in Poland, is masked with the appearance of the diversity of political views; from nationalist, conservative, religious fanaticism, to even anticommunism. These websites quickly receive a lot of likes, which might easily disorient the recipients. Those likes are the effect of purchasing add campaigns, something offered by Facebook, among others.
Even a very superficial observation points out the hive that is at the core of how those pro-Putin portals and websites are organized. It is very similar from a pattern common in the Russian internet, where one can observe Dugin’s hive.
The first group of those portals has to be classified as peripheral. Their propaganda content is diluted and most often mixed with information information that has nothing to do with Russian, Putin or his politics. Yet they do link to other portals with more intensified propaganda.
Second group consists of portals with highly intensified propaganda contents. They can be called masks. Finally, there are portals where the desired substance is being manufactured. These are in fact closely related to Russian portals, and their publications are often translated to Polish through the use of mask-portals.
The deciding factor is the ammount of these websites; sometimes they are named very differently, sometimes they seemingly deal with different area of interest, but they are always linked to those portals important for the objectives of propaganda. Googling for „cursed soldiers”, a search that should be associated with anti-communism, it highly probable to reach a pro-Putin propaganda within 2 or 3 clicks (for instance through Falanga’s website). The described structure is simplified in the following scheme.
It should not be concluded that this Polish pro-Putin hive was designed in Russia. Nothing could be more wrong. Some knowledge of Polish background, certain properties of internet and a slight inspiration were used. Some groups unwittingly gave themselves in to this inspiration, ending with huge numbers of internet sharing the toxic memes. With time however the meme obtained from a propaganda source begins to spread throughout portals and individual internet users. Such work needs good intelligence and understanding of the targeted society’s mentality, as much as close observation of its internal policies (for example Washington claiming that Moscow was fueling internet hate after the shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer; Moscow was also organizing much of the internet activity around the secession of Scotland.
Trolling, as a tactic, goes beyond simply sharing memes. In fact internet, while skillfully used, is of second importance to knowledge of other society, its culture, problems, symptoms, or complexes, that can be used.
First step to spreading a toxic meme is not editing it, but finding the right target group. It will be that groups job to share and popularize it. The recipient will often become an unaware „meme sower”. When the meme producer begins to operate, even in the smallest of groups of targets, snowball effect should be initiated. A bigger or smaller crowd will then begin sharing, out of conviction, curiosity, perverseness, or just for fun.
It must be noted that the toxic meme must mainly reach its target group (for instance the Volyn massacre meme is mainly to reach people of Kresy. That is why reconnaissance, understanding and properly crafting the appropriate contents, recognizing the target groups and the potential „meme sowers” is an essential part of trolling.
Internet offers particularly big opportunities for influencing the young and immature. We can hear in the media stories of teenagers successfully obtained as sexual assets and future wives for the ISIS terrorists. This phenomenon should not feel very exotic to us. Social networks create great opportunities for manipulating unshaped personalities in an almost invisible way.
The right question about the psychological effect of the toxic memes is not about its producers and main „sowers”, but the recipients, who in the end are the victims of the manipulation. A passive „toxic meme sower” can be someone who had been directly contacted (although he or she might not be aware of who recruited them or for what purpose), but might just as well be completely unaware of own part to play.
Internet is a brand new communication platform, that creates radically new mechanisms of influencing. The generation of those over forty today may not be sensing this, making them not appreciate, treating Internet only as a communication tool. Younger representatives of the „digital generational” for whom it’s no longer a PC, but a smartphone, placing them in a new cultural-civilizational situation. This transition from the society of the spectacle to this society of society of the web has a tremendous effect on politics and power relations.
It seems trolling and toxic memes will mostly reach young, frustrated, and reliant people. It could as well be people of unfulfilled dreams of power, who dream of leading without an open competition.
To a certain degree, one can be speaking of an antisocial character of such personalities, because the set of values of a liberal democratic society is not interiorized for them.
Toxic memes susceptible recipient doesn’t trust democracy, because he believes the world to be manipulated (by great capital, American imperialism, political elites, world Jewry, Vatican mafia, etc)
This individual suspects hidden agenda and looks for the elite truth. It is similar to the mentality of a sect member, who can feel most important, present and active in public life, and same time existing only on its margin. It must be realized that in all cultures and civilizations, each society will contain a large amount of people of such attitudes. In „Society of the Spectacle” centralized mass media, like or TV or radio, play a crucial role, leaving little space for public recognition for people like that. Properties of the internet, search tools, and social media must also be recognized. Today search tools will base their friend suggestions on your very first steps; who and what you „like”. Should someone who just created a social media profile keep looking for, say, „cursed soldiers”, or other, similarly patriotic slogans and terms, will get suggestions for websites with similar areas of interest, but not prepared by historians, or anyone who cares for historical truth. We are always just two clicks away from finding ourselves in the company of the elite of most active toxic memes sowers.
Russian trolling in the Polish net
The presence of Russian influence in the Polish net, similar to Internet networks in other EU states, is widely visible and confirmed many times, although it is much more difficult to determine its extent and methods used in this process.
Initially, i.e. in mid-2014, we could see portals/blog zones linking to Russian portals and editing translations of texts by Dugin and other similar authors (Xportal, http://www.usopal.pl/, or references to Russian sites: Falanga, http://rebelya.pl/). For example, this portal reposted, without any comment, the platform expose by Alexander Dugin, “The Name of the Russian Myth”, where we read: We need to understand that Igor Strielkov’s role is pivotal. He is the example of Russian idealist, conservative, and true patriot, who overcame the abyss between ideals and actions; that abyss is a paralysing curse of our patriotism.
Subsequently, we can see the activity of mostly anonymous bloggers, who add their aggressively pro-Russian content wherever the topic of contemporary Russia or Russian-Ukrainian conflict appears. This can be seen very clearly in ONET.pl and Salon24.pl portals.
Further intensification of trolling was related to the appearance of numerous web pages in support of such quasi-political creations as “Doniecka (pseudo) Republika Ludowa” (Donetsk (quasi) People’s (quasi) Republic) or “Polacy wspierają Republikę Doniecką” (Poles Support the Donetsk Republic), and virtual and propaganda-oriented sites such as “Wileńska Republika Ludowa” (Vilnius People’s Republic), which raise concerns that the Polish minority in Lithuania is – according to Kremlin’s plans – to support Putin’s “little green men”.
The portal Europejskie Centrum Analiz Geopolitycznych (European Centre of Geopolitical Analysis) http://www.geopolityka.org/, practically a leg in Dugin’s network, is particularly active.
This Internet propaganda is performed on two levels: One of them is the promotion of Putinist ideology in its broad tenets. However, it is the second level that is more important, namely making references to specific content intended for Polish audience. We need to notice here that at this second level activities consist primarily in adding to information already available in the Polish Internet. Those could be expanded with propaganda content or new meaning could be given to already existing content or new context for such content could be imposed. Below we describe such collocations and associations, which are to be invoked by a correctly formed toxic meme.
Association: “Radical critic of the West”
Putin’s propaganda is interested, first of all, in inspiring dislike for the West. To this end, diverse, often unrelated threads are picked up, with the aim to reach circles whose views often differ much.
On one hand, the West is supposedly weak and decadent, “rotting” from “gay” ideology, deep in financial crisis, and a place where only egoistic interests of the richest and the strongest are pursued. A particular thread appears here that the West will not help Poland and is, in fact, Poland’s enemy. The memory of 1939 is used, when Poland was “betrayed”, which should lead to “conclusions being drawn once and for all”.
On the other hand, however, the West is also supposedly aggressive, duplicitous and brutal, carries out its interests which, incidentally, are supposedly divergent from Polish interests.Polskie Towarzystwo Geopolityczne (Polish Geopolitical Association) dr Andrzej Zapałowski http://ptg.edu.pl/
Consequently, the only resort against the West can be Russia. Russia is not even presented as particularly friendly. Russia is powerful, even dangerous, and since insecure and treacherous West is unable to protect Poland against Russia, then its better to succumb to Russia, thus ensuring peace and safety at least.
We find a good example of anti-West content merged with Russian propaganda slogans in the post of an anonymous pro-Putin blogger under the nick of “Election Boycott” in the blogging zone of Salon24:
I used to explain to the Russkies that they have phobias and go hysteric by seeing a the West as a deadly enemy. Today, I’m slowly feeling ashamed that I told them such nonsense. Because it turns out that it was the Russkies who were right.
Seeing the West’s actions recently (…), we can notice clearly how aggressive, murderous and rottenly false the whole West ideology is. The West murders, kills, attacks, invades whoever it wants and wherever it wants, without as much as asking the opinion of the UN and the like. It murders, without blinking, anyone it doesn’t like (In Polish original, the initial spelling was preserved).
There is no way to avoid the impression that these kinds of arguments refer to a certain collective subconscious of the Polish society, connected with the sense of being isolated, betrayed etc. It is difficult to say whether the blogger who wrote those enunciations was a direct tool of Putin’s propaganda. We think it would be more interesting if the inspired person wrote so only at his own initiative. This would be a prove of how far Polish deep-rooted complexes can be used in favour of pro-Kremlin propaganda.
Association: “Nation, Nationalists”
The pro-Russian propaganda combines in a particularly sophisticated way with contents coming from Polish “nationalism” and “nationalist movement” or “patriotic” slogans. It seems that portals with nationalist contents are used in a particular way to spread Putinist propaganda imitating nationalist content. It is interesting here that contents and symbols, which generally should unequivocally denote anti-Russian views (e.g. “Żołnierze Wyklęci” (Condemned Soldiers)), serve emotional mobilization which is supposed to end with opposition to what “is going on in Poland” and acceptance of transition to the other, Russian side. It is surprising how many edited pages there are where “patriotic” symbols and rhetoric are accumulated so that it could be possible to manipulate the emotions involved.
The best picture of this surprising merger of pro-Putin propaganda with manipulation of Polish nationalism content is the site “Kronika narodowa” (National Chronicles) http://www.kronikanarodowa.pl/. It has the image of Roman Dmowski as its patron. Putin’s propaganda is particularly intense in feeding off the tradition of pre-war Polish National Democratic Party, making use of apparent consistence between old politics of Roman Dmowski and today’s promoted pro-Moscow politics. This manifests inter alia through recalling the figure of Bolesław Piasecki and his organization, PAX, which collaborated with the communists.
A good example is e.g. the portal “Falanga. Polska!Młodość!Rewolucja!” (Falanga, Poland!Youth!Revolution!) http://falanga.org.pl/ This portal supports Serbian extreme nationalism, speaks against the NATO, supports Assad in Syria, but at the same time actively organizes a march of “condemned soldiers”. The following text, being a platform of this site to a certain extent, provides for an interesting analysis:
We are living in a post-modern era, and this brings far-reaching consequences for the purposes and function of holding a discourse. The immanent truth, so hard to capture, gives way to various truths derived from each, even the most original view, creating an infinitely large grid of equal positions which – despite contradiction – can exist along each other, or even penetrate each other. The deconstruction of all “absolute truths” (including liberal truths) in the post-modern spirit creates good conditions for establishing a “laboratory of ideas” of sorts, where various points of view can confront each other and exert mutual influence to create, sometimes, a new whole. Putting those wholes in order and systematizing them can become a contribution towards a new doctrine. http://falanga.org.pl/
This introduction most certainly was not written by any of the men shaved bold you can see on the photos at Falanga portal. It is, however, close to the pseudo-intellectual style of Alexander Dugin’s writings and his quasi-intellectual babbling about “the fourth political theory”.
The Falanga site does not contain any pro-Russian content directly (apart from an important link to the “Open Revolt” site where we can find a reference to Dugin, Euro-Asian doctrine etc.
The site “Ruch suwerenności narodu polskiego” (Polish Nation Sovereignty Movement) also does not promote directly any aggressively pro-Russian activities, but the chauvinistic agitation pursued in this portal ultimately leads there. We find Novorossiya flags there and such exclamations as my regards to Russian TV, they at least can speak the truth
We find an interesting example in site http://www.konserwatyzm.pl/. It is difficult to tell what ties most of those who write there have. However, it is most certain that there is content there that corresponds, almost word for word, to Kremlin’s current propaganda slogans, yet this does not stop the declarations of Polish nationalism, attachment to patriotic symbols etc. It is a surprising mix of ideas found in Dmowski’s writings, sympathy for the times of the Polish People’s Republic (e.g. the figure of Wojciech Jaruzelski), anti-Semitism, sympathy for Lefebvrists, “conservative monarchy” ideas, ideas associated with nostalgia for Polish pre-war East etc. The English call such phenomena a lunatic fringe, but it is those circles who is a very active manufacturer and propagator of toxic memes. By tracing Facebook friends of those circles, we can reach anonymous Internet users who send pro-Putin memes, full of hatred towards the Polish state and its authorities as well as towards Ukraine and its people.
Ultimately, however, those Polish “national conservative” can reach the following conclusion: The optimum scenario for Poland now could be to leave the NATO and stay neutral at the decisive stage of the potential war. This is because if Russia is easily brought to its knees as a result of military confrontation, the hegemonic leader – the US – would not let us get Vilnius and Lviv back anyway. If not for any other reason, because Lithuania and Ukraine are also “allies” (vassals) to the United States.
Nationalism turns out to be a hot spice, which merges with contents that is entirely opposite to the stereotype that in Poland, the nationalism is to be primarily anti-Russian.
Another Internet circle, where propaganda meme appears, is the religious fundamentalism and, on the other part, neo-paganism in its Slavophiliac edition. Considering that neo-pagan sites are openly anti-religion, we can see in this example how “flexible” the manipulation of propaganda meme and toxic meme is.
An interesting example of intentional or accidental manipulation can be found in the page with a very welcome name “patriotic list of sites”. Among the content that is patriotic and raises no objections, there are also links to sites, where patriotic and nationalist symbols and rhetoric moves smoothly to pro-Putin propaganda campaign [http://patriotyczna.listastron.pl/].
Association: “Volhynia, Banderivitsi”
The Putin propaganda strives to discredit both the Ukrainian state and the Ukrainian nationality. Ukraine is supposedly not only a quasi-state (it is easy to recall anti-Polish propaganda after World War I, which referred to “a Versailles Treaty bastard” or “season state”), and the Ukrainians are not to be a full-fledged nation either.
All this on the background of claims that Ukrainian authorities, after Yanukovych’s fall, are supposedly illegal and made up of fascists and Banderivitsi – this is a frequently repeated motive in Kremlin’s propaganda.
A strictly Polish thread is the constant invocation of the history of Volhynia in 1943, which is referred to as “Volhynia slaughter”. The Ukrainians are painted as wild and cruel beasts who absent-mindedly murdered Poles, not sparing women and children. A special role is to be played by the figure of Stephan Bandera, who becomes the main symbol of those crimes (even though at the time of Volhynia massacres he was a prisoner in German concentration camp). Bandera, who as a negative symbol is, on one hand, a creation of Soviet propaganda, and on the other – became, for part of today’s Ukrainian public opinion, a symbol of fight for independence, continues to be the object of constant attacks. His presence in the Ukrainian discourse is to determine the negative assessment of the contemporary Ukrainian society and prove that extreme nationalism is present there.
The Putin’s propaganda adds also, with its contents and through the thread of “Bandera” and “Banderivitsi”, to the so-called Kresy ideology. Kresy.pl is a portal with relatively broad impact, presenting at the same time a nearly model pattern of how Putin propaganda and anti-Ukrainian propaganda can merge with Kresy matters.
The topic of Bandera and Banderivitsi and Ukrainian nationalism is omnipresent in the Polish Internet and constitutes one of the primary methods of anti-Ukrainian persuasion and attempt to drive a wedge between Polish and Ukrainian societies. Through the description of cruelties and crimes of “Volyn slaughter”, those issues are to stoke up the emotions, to practically prevent any Polish-Ukrainian dialogue. A good example of stoking up such emotions, next to Kresy.pl, are the blogging circles gathered around http://www.konserwatyzm.pl/. http://prawica.net/39503. The pictures from the past are also transposed onto the contemporary times and the present situation in Ukraine.
One of the bloggers in these circles, Konrad Rękas, writes, inter alia: “Jak Kijowska junta gwałci prawa człowieka” (How the Kiev Junta Violates Human Rights) http://prawica.net/39514 , as well as “Prawa człowieka na Ukrainie po Euromajdanie” (Human Rights in Ukraine After Euromaidan), where he writes: Paradoxically, however, the time to talk about respect for human rights in Ukraine, eight months after Euromaidan, is particularly good. This is because despite censorship attempts by “Gazeta Wyborcza”, TV stations or the Western owners of the capital city hotel themselves, new facts constantly appear in the world, outside Poland, regarding crimes and violations of basic rights and freedoms, committed under the aegis of Kiev authorities.
And finally a quote we cannot resist citing:
Remember – EVERY LIKE IS A SINGLE RUSSIAN MISSILE SENDING A DOZEN BANDEROVITSI INTO THE ATLANTISTIC HELL.
Association: “Be a patriot – mind your own business”
Fear against war is most certainly a strong component of the Polish consciousness, and as such is often used to seed a propaganda meme. It is related to a strong complex (we could call it September 1939 complex) of being left alone and betrayed by the international community. It is also not without importance that presently in Poland there is a discussion going on about the sensibility of many acts with arms, e.g. the Warsaw Uprising, and opinions of their futility and non-reasonability are expressed. This inside Polish discussion is disturbed by interference from the outside.
Not always the pro-Putin trolling refers directly to this emotional complex, but rather mergers with the “battle for peace” thread, so typical for the Communist propaganda.
A pro-Ukrainian approach is presented primarily as inciting to war, and the perpetrators of the conflict are to be, first of all, the Ukrainian (fascists, Banderovitsi) themselves or the West (the American, NATO, Pentagon).
A blogger using the name of Marek Błaszkowski writes on Salon24 site:
It speaks bad of the EU that it supports order-wreckers. Furthermore, it puts Poland in the first front line, and when the push comes to shove, no one will help us. You will have, my dear Author, to grab the blade yourself to stop Putin. It is also worth noting that the Ukrainian army and various troopers from Kolomoyski and UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army, formed in 1942) regularly commit the massacre of civilians, including setting them on fire alive, as it happened in Odessa. Such crimes are a nightmare.
However, the most important conclusion of this text, repeated in various forms in may places, is: The Polish raison d’état is to mind its own business, not to support various order-wreckers, not to muscle in on the first light of fight with Russia, not to support genocide.
War is to be a tool used primarily by the West which never takes Polish interests into account. For the anti-Semitic demagogue Grzegorz Braun, the war is the action of Jews. Jews support the American who need to maintain influence in Central Europe. This includes the conflict in Ukraine. Polish immature political elites are unable to stand aside, because it is a Polish habit to “pull the bell line to hear the Polish anthem” .
This “minding of own business” is, however, to take a quite specific form as a further consequence. Whereas the starting point is about not irritating Russia, normalized relations should be had with it (regardless of what Russia does) , finally Poland will have to stand next to Russia.
Site of “Obóz Wielkiej Polski” (Great Poland Camp) http://www.owp.org.pl proclaims: “We already have a war” and publishes a map of Novorossiya with a slogan “History, Peace and Truth”. This cannot be surprising, since one of the main activists of this organization, which piggybacks on a historical name from inter-war period, is Bartosz Bekier, one of the most active pro-Putin activists in Poland.
Association: “Contempt for the state and the disputing of the ‘system’”
The next unit of content, to which toxic memes and Russian propaganda content attach, is the disputing of the political system in Poland, depreciating opinions about Poland and Polishness, and references to all kinds of social unhappiness, forming the conviction of state’s impotence. We need to emphasize here that most threads used in this aspect of trolling have been present already in the Polish discourse in 1990s: the criticism of the Round Table, disillusion with economic reforms, power grab. The line between justified and possibly understandable expression of social discontent and propaganda actions making use thereof is hard to determine.
Such actions, disavowing the Polish statehood and political life, to which content compliant with Kremlin propaganda attaches, can be found on such sites as e.g. http://oburzeni.pl/, “Dziennik gajowego Maruchy” (Diary of Marucha the Forester)http://marucha.wordpress.com/, http://www.usopal.pl/ (where we can find direct references to Russian sites), and the Youtube channel run by Max Kolonko (who is, at the same time, a commentator at SUPER TV). For Kolonko, “the situation in Ukraine leads to the revision of Polish borders; Polish politicians pursue a messianic policy by supporting the Ukrainians, while forgetting about Polish graves” (Kolonko TV supports itself with Polish companies’ ads, published there).
Association: “don’t be a Russophobe”
There are more threads, to which propaganda meme and toxic meme attaches in the Polish Internet, and it is difficult to give a full list thereof. Such list is most likely redundant, because we are concerned primarily with the understanding mechanisms, and not with a detailed description of the phenomenon. However, we absolutely need to mention one more thread. It is related to a special type of moral blackmail that is an attempt to claim that any criticism of today’s Russia is a result of anti-Russian obsession.
At the demonstration in support of Putin, in front of the Russian embassy, the following words were spoken by the organizer and agitator: Enough of antagonizing Russia against us, it is all too well that Crimea joined Russia, Obama and Merkel should stay away from Slavic affairs, the Polish media do not reflect the Polish public opinion.
While this statement is obviously extremist, in other places the thesis about anti-Russian phobia is expressed more cautiously, and propaganda meme attaches to Internet community where the concern that the criticism of present power at Kremlin could turn into anti-Russian xenophobia is authentic. The essence of this operation is an attempt to identify Putin with Russianness, and Kremlin’s current policy with progressive Russian politics.
Putin’s politics of influence in Poland
Operations in the Internet, such as trolling, do not exhaust actions in support of building Russian politics of influence in Poland. It is enough to recall such magazines as “Gazeta Warszawska” or “Myśl Polska”, radio station or the influence of “Russia Today” TV station, or, finally, official portals such as “Sputnik”.
At the same time, we cannot forget that actions in the virtual world of Internet are to lead to specific consequences in the real world.
As an example of such real, and not virtual events, let us recall the voting of four European MPs from Poland against the Association Agreement with Ukraine. The fact that Korwin-Mikke’s nearly vanishing party was able to get in the European Parliament is a result, among others, of the strong supported provided by extremely nationalist sites where Putin’s trolling was omnipresent. Janusz Korwin-Mikke, by his participation in political arena and use of Internet, among others, to ensure his presence, plays a considerable role in supporting the Kremlin propaganda. Korwin-Mikke, who sustains his public presence through scandalising statements, has been recently speaking openly and aggressively in Putin’s favour.
In the campaign now in progress for presidential and parliamentary elections, pro-Putin Internet advocates voting for selected small parties. It promotes the concept that the mainstream of Polish political life, from PiS to PO to SLD, is totally corrupt and compromised.
Anti-Ukrainian street demonstrations are being held in front of the Ukrainian embassy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UScaMsr2Uk or Ukrainian consulate in Lublin as well as Russian embassy, all in support of Russia.
Real world activities include attempts at penetrating paramilitary circles e.g. invitations extended to members of sport shooting associations to “train” in Russia.
It is visible that Putin’s propaganda intends to transform the “Independence March” into the Polish (or rather, anti-Polish) maidan, using the penetration of a part of “nationalist” circles.
We can also see Polish citizens among Russian terrorist units in Donbas. They are such people as Dawid Hudziec, who fights in Donbas, or Dariusz Lemański, who fights in “Novorossiya” forces.
The presence in the Internet and activity in social networks are often mutually complementary. We can observe in real life the same people we encounter in the Internet, even though there, being anonymous, they are often less visible. It is worth mentioning some of them as an example.
Perhaps the person most visible in the public life as a supporter of pro-Putin orientation is Mateusz Piskorski, even more so since he became one of the leading organisers of the political party called “Zmiana” (Change). Piskorski, associated with “Polskie Towarzystwo Geopolityczne”, acts as Polish political scientist and international observer in “missions” to Moscow-annexed Crimea. He travelled to Syria several times, supporting Assad’s regime. “Zmiana” party advocates for a total overhaul of the political system in Poland for Poland’s withdrawal from the NATO.
Adam Wielomski belongs to the most pro-Russian section with the “nationalist” movement. He is also the founder of an armchair “Kongres Zachowawczo-Monarchistyczny” (Conservative Monarchy Congress) and, the OWP (Obóz Wielkiej Polski – Great Poland Camp) – equally armchair-like, but with slightly more reach. Adam Wielomski is also a contributor to “nationalist” magazines, e.g. “Myśl Polska” and Korwin-Mikke’s “Najwyższy Czas” as well as Konserwatyzm.pl. Close to Korwin-Mikke, Wielomski was considered to be the éminence grise in KNP (Konferencja Polski Niepodległej – Confederation of Independent Poland). He also penned two subservient letters to the Moscow ambassador and Putin, and some vitriolic texts on Polish statehood.
Yet another activist in pro-Putin Internet is Ronald Lasecki, a member of editing team of the portal http://konserwatyzm.pl/, xportal.pl/ and other pro-Putin portals. His ambition is clearly to be the community’s ideologist and is under strong influence of Russian extreme right. We can name other figures in pro-Putin circles such as Adam Danek or Bartosz Bekier, who openly collaborate not only with the Russian media, but also with the media of terrorist Novorossiya , or Konrad Rękas, who openly throws accusations at the Polish political life in the “Voice of Russia”. In the past, he was an activist of the so-called “nationalist right”, then Samoobrona, and nowadays he is a member of Klub Zachowawczo-Monarchistyczny. This activist’s example is a major proof that there are many threads in various figures’ actions in favour of the Kremlin’s politics of influence.
It is puzzling, naturally, that Polish citizens can become propagators for the propaganda that is openly and clearly hostile towards Poland. What is the political and psychological profile of those people? What, in turn, is the profile of gullible audience of pro-Putin content spread by them, especially when the conflict in the East becomes more heated, and the threats against Poland, made at the Kremlin, are more and more audible? In every country there is political folklore, political extremities and fringes (in the UK, this is called a lunatic fringe), and to a certain extent this is the phenomenon we are dealing with here in Poland. However, we cannot ignore the fact that there can be directly ties between such fringe and the activities of a power that is unfriendly to Poland today i.e. Putin’s Russia. There are examples of people active in the Internet who are already facing prosecutor’s charges of subversive activities in favour of a foreign state.
Political culture and information war
The use the propaganda makes of the Internet needs to be evaluated against a broader culture and civilization context.
The use of Internet and social networks for political and propaganda purposes took the democratic West by surprise, to a great extent. Naturally, the opportunities the Internet provides for election campaign were notices, and an innovative example of this was the first election campaign run by Obama. This was also grasped by Polish politicians who often use Twitter. The importance of Internet was noticed during the Arab Spring, and an optimistic conclusion was hastily drawn from that, namely that no dictatorship can remain standing in the world of text messages and Twitter . We can also add, that Euromaidan itself and the dignity revolution owe much to the Internet, starting with the fact that it began with Mustafa Mayyem’s call on Facebook to come to the Freedom Square.
Only a few years ago the discussions about the Internet were completely optimistic. The Internet was to become a new tool of democracy and facilitate democratization where it was insufficient. The only opponents of this view were those who saw universal networking as an opportunity for total control. The only danger for the network was to consist in hackers (a phenomenon that is somewhat complicated culturally) or in a quasi-monopolistic of such companies as Google or Facebook.
The first person to notice and describe extensively the threat, the Internet could pose, as a tool of propaganda addressed against Western democracies, was Evgeny Morozov. A few year ago he already described Russian attempts in this respect and Putin’s fascination with this new way of communication, and the fact that Putin won the favour of an entire group of young Russian bloggers. It is not an accident that Morozov is Belarussian who is very knowledgeable about Soviet or post-Soviet propaganda his own country has experienced.
The Kremlin was able to combine older elements of psychological warfare with new opportunities the Internet provides. The Kremlin experts carried out their first experiment on their own society. The propaganda material used consisted, in great part, in Dugin’s views which render the gist of many complications in the Russian ailing identity, and recommend a neo-imperial treatment. The second propaganda operation concerned the annexation of Crimea and included international references.
It was decided to continue applying this tested recipe in external politics. Kremlin’s experts on Internet propaganda has assumed from the start that in each country the trolling has to be formed differently.
Although we could say that just like Dugin – with his schizophrenic theories – does not understand Russia, but undoubtedly is a medium for “Russian soul” ailments, such a medium needs to be found in every country. It usually exists at the fringes of the society, like a lunatic who disjointedly discloses all indiscretions of the society, which he came to live in.
Thus, the fringe political folklore of sorts became the medium for Kremlin propaganda in Poland. In many instances, we do not have to look for any spying roots to explain pro-Putin attitudes. Some fringes of public opinion or specific circles were ready for that regardless whether they have any connection to the Russian side. Everyone who is neo-pagan will accept Russian pan-Slavic content with likelihood much greater than average. Who is a monarchist, will be more likely to seek for any vision of future which would be alternative to democracy. Who has a negative or highly negative approach to the system he lives in, he would be more likely to take up radical criticism of such system, with no heed paid to the source. Who believes that West can only betray Poland, will assume that conflict with Russia should be avoided. Who hates Germans, will accept Russia more easily. Who is an anti-Semite, will believe that Ukraine is ruled by Jews.
The Polish political folklore, made up of such exemplary figures as quasi-liberal Janusz Korwin-Mikke, anti-Semite Michalkiewicz, quasi-historian Waldemar Łysiak or essayist Waldemar Ziemkiewicz, is susceptible for penetration by trolling. We can add here also the representatives of academic circles, such as, for instance, , Andrzej Romanowski , who condemn the allegedly common and irrational Russophobia of Poles, or even those who – like Anna Raźna – write subservient letters to Putin. It would be overly simplifying and unreasonable to hastily seek the influence of Kremlin agents in such actions. Conspiracy theories are generally the least useful for better understanding of political life, or even political folklore. However, this builds an atmosphere where a troll can speak and will not be considered or recognized as a troll.
At the same time, one could argue that the fronts of many public discussions and very strong polarization of those discussions were and are favorable for penetration by trolling.
The vision of the alleged “Third Republic salon” – the favorite rhetoric figure of right-wing journalism – allows every idiot to present himself as not allowed into the public debate. The black legend of the “Round Table” and “Magdalenka” helps question the value of the Polish state and facilitates speaking about its decline. In turn, the presentation of the Polish right-wing solely as irresponsible “loonies” and a threat to democracy helps feeding negative stereotypes that this is how Poland is – nationalist, dark and not comprehending democracy.
In fact, most of Russian trolling can be already seen in emotional disputes between the two camps: PiS versus PO and PO versus PiS. After all, “pisiory” (colloquial and slightly derogatory term for PiS followers), in eyes of “platformers” (followers of Platforma Obywatelska), are continuing the tradition of the Polish National Democratic Party (although Kaczyński is rather a follower of Piłsudski), they are xenophobes, inclined toward anti-Semitism, nationalists who get all emotional over the Condemned Soldiers etc. In turn, “platfusy” (colloquial and slightly derogative term for PO followers), in eyes of “pisiory”, mean “Magdalenka crew”, “Round Table fraud”, propaganda of gay culture etc. According to “platformers”, Polska is under constant threat of PiS “loonies” coming to power, and at the same time, according to “pisiory”, Poland is a disaster caused by unvetted supporters of former military intelligence (WSI).
The Polish media only strengthen this division. TV Republika is alleged pro-PiS, and TVN – pro-PO, Gazeta Wyborcza is for the “platformers”, and Rzeczpospolita daily – for PiS. The media copy the political party division, and even replace it in a way, because it is the media, more often than politicians, are manufacturers of ideas.
This often chaotic and emotional tone of public debate makes propaganda manipulation from outside easier.
This also makes it possible to attempt building new front lines, which would facilitate the disintegration of the Polish society. Such attempts are being made. Allegedly, PO-PiS is to stand on one side as part of massive interference with the Polish Internet, and the pro-Russian alternative – on the other side. PO-PiS supports Ukrainians, so therefore it is xenophobically anti-Russian and pushes the country towards a war. Standing on the other side are supposedly those who promise “a change” and rejection of the old “system”. They promise this to everyone who felt equally bad whether it was PO or PiS who was in power, because they are the same clique (“Tusk is a Jew and Kaczyński is a Jew”). Therefore, a radical change is necessary. The need for such change was advocated already by PiS, but PiS was unable to carry it out. Now it will be carried out by us who understand that a war with Russia is unnecessary, that Bandera and “Volyn slaughter” need to be remembered.
It seems that in 1990s, the Russian politics of influence was seeking contact primarily in post-communist circles. We also cannot forget that it was the time of Yeltsin when at least some of the Russian political elites attempted to build closer ties with the West.
With time, Russian intelligence’s interest in Samoobrona became visible. When this formation collapsed, their interest moved on to “Nowa Prawica” (New Right) and nationalist circles who were perceived as easy to manipulate. This is consistent with propaganda activities in other EU states where the extreme right enjoys Kremlin’s support.
The “Zmiana” party, being currently organized to gather activists who are unequivocally pro-Moscow, is the expression of yet another trend of Russian propaganda, namely its eclecticism. When we analyze the biographies of leading activists and journalist activity of those circles, we can find there a broad array of ideas from neo-paganism and pan-Slavism, to twisted references to the Polish nationalism, to nostalgia for the Polish People’s Republic and “leftist” slogans – all this seasoned with quasi-intellectual gibberish taken from Dugin. The Ukrainian historian Ihor Hrycak ironically called this type of quasi-ideological mix “the post-communism modernism”. Ridiculing this phenomenon or demonstrating its irrationality is not only pointless; it means we do not understand it. This seemingly chaotic form has a clear and obvious purpose. This mix of contradicting slogans is to disintegrate political thinking and contribute to the general confusion.
Those comments let us draw a conclusion that is important, albeit difficult to translate into specific and practical actions, namely the conclusion that the weaker the political culture is and the worse the quality of the media, the easier it is to infect a given community we a propaganda “toxic meme”.
Social reactions to trolling and pro-Putin propaganda
The belief that propaganda activity in the Internet can pose a threat can be countered with two arguments.
Firstly, the Internet is too big to let anyone manipulate it freely. The sociology of Internet speaks in this case about the so-called crowd effect.
Secondly, every intensified activity in the Internet causes also the intensification of counter-activity. As a result, the spread of views in a given community does not differ from the spread of views held by that community regardless of such external actions. When describing this phenomenon, some sociologists speak of “crowd wisdom”, though we should rather speak of “statistically averaged wisdom”.
When we look at how the circles supporting Ukraine and groups monitoring Putin’s propaganda lies, such as “Russian Fifth Column”, “Poles Together with Ukraine”, “Help Ukraine” and many others, spontaneously organize themselves over the Internet, we can reach the conclusion that the crowd effect operates with sufficient strength. The Polish Internet community noticed the manipulative actions of Russian propaganda and started reacting to those actions with increasing intensity.
However, we need to raise several important objections against excessive optimism.
The Russian propaganda’s objective is not to have influence over the entire Polish society or even the majority thereof. It is highly unlikely to happen anyway, for a society with such a heavy burden of past experience in relations with Russia to become widely pro-Russian. Kremlin’s actions are aimed instead at creating appropriate social niches which can be manipulated. The Russian propaganda also has a chance to influence selected young circles. Ultimately, it is not about convincing someone, but about stirring up the feeling of uncertainty and confusion. Such partial “success” is within Kremlin propaganda’s reach with help of the Internet. As Kremlin’s trolling is institutionalized and well financed, any social and spontaneous opposition may prove not to be efficient enough.
Western countries are already undertaking counter-initiatives, supported by the state, and there are many calls for such actions. Such decisions should be made in Poland as well.
1. The “information war” is a threat parallel to the military threat and requires appropriate reaction from the state authorities and the government.
2. The definition of cyber-security, used by the institutions and government agencies responsible for this security, should be significantly expanded. Next to the issue of risk of hacker attacks, it should include the matter of hostile propaganda activities in the Internet.
3. It is necessary to make the public aware of the phenomenon which is political trolling, and to keep it informed about threats related thereto.
4. A systematic research of Kremlin propaganda contents is important for the assessment of Kremlin’s political intentions. This is why “psychological warfare” should become an important part of research conducted by analysis centers.
5. It is necessary to recognize the sociological and psychological processes, which are connected with Internet activity, in order to take effective actions against Kremlin’s “information war”. This matter requires international co-operation.
6. Those circles, which produce toxic memes, must be identified. Those are the circles of potential pro-Putin political activity, which would not be virtual only, should Russian aggression expand.
7. The law enforcement authorities, prosecutor’s office and the courts should pay attention to the new type of risks and crimes, where the Internet is a tool.
8. We urgently need new legal regulations concerning Internet activity. In particular, the anonymity cannot protect against liability for words, especially in the case of slander, mobbing and punishable threats.
9. Counteracting the “information war” required innovative methods of work of properly prepared, multi-disciplinary teams. Those teams should include, among others, IT specialists, sociologists and social psychologists as well as historians.
10. The security agencies’ task should be to determine the connection between the politics of influence, carried out in the Internet, and the traditional agent network and acquisition of main propagators of toxic memes.
11. It is an illusion than nothing can be done. The “collective wisdom”, manifesting in the Internet as the crowd effect i.e. the rule that the Internet – as a mass phenomenon – will always express what the network society represents, on the statistical spread basis, and it makes it difficult to manipulate the Internet, may prove misleading.
Joanna Darczewska, Anatomia rosyjskiej wojny informacyjnej. Operacja Krymska – studium przypadku, Warszawa 2014. p.12. The author reviews Russian literature of the subject and describes activities, performed by Russian authorities on the Internet.
American-Belarusian theoretician Eveny Morozov was one of the first to describe Russian activity on the Internet in „The Net Delusion. How not to liberate the World”, 2011.
It must be noted that modern day Russia does not have an ideology similar to the old communism, and that a blatant lie (denying obvious and recognized facts) is an open public policy of the Russian authorities. It is to serve a psychological effect (frightening by proving no space for a compromise), rather than a persuasive one (convincing to own position) of the „information warfare”, waged against own society, which is to manipulate in preference to indoctrinated.
„Troll” and „trolling” were first introduced in common speech by internet users. Due to the great speed of Internet’s growth many of the terms and phrases describing this area of human activity are an effect of a spontaneous social process, rather than being formed in scientific writings. These phrases and terms however, in their deeper analysis, ought to refer to informal terms, already intuitively known. You can add many of the newly introduced Internet-based terminology, like „Sharing,” „friending,” „liking,” „following,” „trending,” and „favoriting”. See i.e. Dijck Jose van The Culture of Connectivity : A Critical History of Social Media, UK 2013
I am using the term „hybrid meme” here using the analogy to „hybrid warfare”. Since sharing memes is a common practice on the Internet it called for a special term.
Evgeny Morozov, The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom Morozov Evgeny: To Save Everything, Click Here: Technology, Solutionism, and the Urge to Fix Problems That Don’t Exist, UK 2014
Vasily Kostickyj, the head of the Central Commission for the ethics of public life believes that the ultimate goal of Russia’s information war on Ukraine is i.a. the annihilation of Ukrainian national identity http://www.radiosvoboda.org/content/article/26600158.html
In this context it is worth mentioning the seemingly unrelated remarks by McChesney, Robert W, Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy, UK 2013. Author notices how deeply Internet serves commercialization not only not helping, but endangering democracy.
Brooke, Heather, The Revolution Will be Digitised : Dispatches from the Information War, UK 2012
When a friend of mine used links to pro-Putin websites in a Facebook discussion, he was accused of serving the role of a troll. While his line of defense was to say that everyone understands these websites to be unbelievable, there are many, who are ready and willing to not recognize them as a threat.
This phenomenon had already been described in literature, see Howard Gardner and Katie Davis, The App Generation. How Todays’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy and Imagination in a Digital World. Unfortunately, while studies of personality shaping in the internet have been broadly recognized, such literature is virtually unknown in Poland.
Many authors point out that using the internet excessively effects and shapes the personalities of many of its users. See: Lanier Jaron, You are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto. It must also be noted that Internet creates an artificial image of the world, causing some individuals to spent more time in it, than in the real world. See: Loving Gert, Networks without a Cause: A Critique of Social Media UK 21/02/2012.
It is beyond dispute that Internet bulletin boards (forums) of several nationwide Polish portals have been bombarded with a massive number of pro-Russian posts for the past dozen months or so. It is also undisputed that software is being used – this is evidenced, among others, by how fast posts are published and in what number. However, it is difficult to say clearly who we are dealing with. Which such low “entry threshold” for effective “whispering”, it could be a small political group operating within Poland, but it as well could be a well organised group operating outside.
The most important question is what is the purpose of such activities – are they only to misinform forum users, or are they to have impact on toning down and directing opinions?
Samoobrona Patriotyczna (Patriotic Self-Defence) includes, among others: Bohdan Poręba, Eugeniusz Sendecki, Zbigniew Witaszek, Anita Edyta Zabroś, Zdzisław Jankowski (MP of 4th Term of Sejm from Samoobrona party) http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zbigniew_Witaszek multiplication of names (Polska Patriotyczna (Patriotic Poland), Samoobrona Odrodzenie (Self-Defence – Revival), Samoobrona Ruch Społeczny (Self-Defence – Social Movement)
There is also an interesting portal at http://narodowikonserwatysci.pl/
We mean both the association under this name and the portal http://suwerennosc.blogspot.com/. It is directed by Jerzy Rachowski. Sławomir Andrzej Zakrzewski Ruch suwerenności narodu polskiego http://eugeniuszsendecki.neon24.pl/tag/80003 Eugeniusz Sendecki ,ruch-suwerennosc-narodu-polskiego http://eugeniuszsendecki.neon24.pl/tag/80003 , ruch-suwerenność-narodu-polskiego flagi Noworosji Bandera Stop
http://www.konserwatyzm.pl/ Those circles also publish printed books. We find the following book interesting: Engelgard Jan, Meller Arkadiusz, Wielomski Adam, Stefan Bandera w Kijowie. Kulisy rewolucji na Ukrainie (Stephan Bandera in Kiev. The Inside Story of the Revolution in Ukraine), Warsaw 2014. Wydawnictwo Capital
http://opolczykpl.wordpress.com/ promotes Slavic and neo-pagan ideology, so it is anti-Christian and, at the same time, openly pro-Putin.
http://wmeritum.pl/ukraina-parlament-zalegalizuje-oun-upa/http://www.krs-online.com.pl/fundacja-miedzynarodowy-instytut-nowych-krs-817242.html (Martynov Aleksei, Mateusz Piskorski, Jacek Cezary Kamiński)
https://www.facebook.com/PRLbezcenzury?fref=photo (community of 11 thousand), a video about Mr Szpakowski, a separatist, clearly fabricated in Donbas
https://www.facebook.com/adam.wielomski.3 , post by an anonymous Internet user Katon Najmłodszy, accessed on 12 September 2014. The FB page of that anonymous Internet user is a classic example of pro-Kremlin and pro-Putin trolling.
Those demonstrations were organised by Sławomir Andrzej Zakrzewski.
Bartosz Bekier on situation in Ukraine and Novorossiya http://xportal.pl/?p=16661
Castell Manuel, Networks of Outrage and Hope : Social Movements in the Internet Age, UK 2012, Shirky Clay, Here Comes Everybody : How Change Happens When People Come Together. UK 2009. Internet’s opportunities in the area of political influence were noted during the Arab Spring. It made some of network experts enthusiastic. Even more so, since the Occupy movement and other new forms of protest have already noticed the opportunities of social influence through the Internet, as “alternative politics”. Ghonim Wael Revolution 2.0, UK 2012, Hands Joss@ is for Activism : Dissent, Resistance and Rebellion in a Digital Culture, UK 2010, Gerbaudo Paulo, Tweets and the Streets : Social Media and Contemporary Activism, UK 2012
Van Dijk, Jan A.G.M, The Network Society, UK 2012
Evgeny Morozov (2012), The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom
press article “Przestańcie popierać Ukrainę” (Stop Supporting Ukraine),
Taylor Astra, The People’s Platform : Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age UK 2014 – the author analyses the demise of serious journalism, which she refers to as churnalism. The phenomenon pointed out for Poland in this report is of a wider nature and can be observed elsewhere as well.